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2000 Best Practice Awards

Best of the Best Winners: Indiana

Best Practice: Back Home in Indiana


Indianapolis, Indiana. Back Home in Indiana (BHII) works throughout the state to assist people with disabilities to realize the American dream of homeownership. People with disabilities are significantly underrepresented in homeownership because of limited income (in most cases), need for modifications to the home or need for supportive services. BHII establishes teams of providers of housing and supportive services in selected areas of the state to work with people with disabilities.

In Marion County, BHII established a homeownership committee that includes representatives from Habitat for Humanity, the Indianapolis Neighborhood Housing Partnership, Near North Development Corporation, HUD, Indianapolis Resource Center for Independent Living and Independent Residential Living of Central Indiana, among others.

To date, one person with disabilities has become a homeowner, two are working with Habitat for Humanity to become homeowners and three others are at various stages of purchasing a home.
Each of the disabled potential homeowners is considered individually, and the person’s needs are addressed by structuring a program that will facilitate the home buying process. For example, the one disabled person who has become a homeowner did so by receiving the following assistance as a result of BHII’s efforts:

  • BHII coordinated the team assisting the homeowner.

  • The Indianapolis Neighborhood Housing Partnership provided homeownership counseling, secured a loan at 1 percent below conventional rates and provided $5,000 in down payment and closing cost assistance.

  • The Indiana Department of Vocational Rehabilitation provided approximately $3,000 in funds for
    modifications to make the property accessible to the homebuyer.

  • A friend of the homebuyer built a temporary ramp.

Organizations across the country can easily assemble a similar team of housing and support services
providers and organizations serving people with disabilities to help foster homeownership.

Contact: Debra McCarty, Phone: (317) 274-6865
Tracking Number: 619
Winning Category: Program (Community Builder)

Best Practice: Tibbs Court

Tibbs Court: Innovation in Housing Finance

Indianapolis, Indiana. Tibbs Court, located in the Near Westside neighborhood of Indianapolis, is a scattered-site, 50-unit housing development, one of the first in the nation to be financed with a combination of low-income housing tax credits and public housing subsidies as well as HOME and CDBG funds. The project includes both renovated and newly constructed homes for rent to public housing and low-income families who agree to participate in the Tibbs Court Homeownership Preparedness Program, which provides homeownership opportunities to residents.

Central to this redevelopment effort are the creation of resident initiatives and economic

Monica Thompson/Mark Stokes/George Courtney receiving Best of the Best award from Secretary Cuomo (l) and Deputy Secretary Ramirez (r)

development activities designed to produce meaningful forms of economic independence within two years, including the opportunity for homeownership. To be eligible for the program, residents must establish homeownership, higher education and employment goals. By participating in this program, residents can reside in one of the Tibbs Court units, while attending a series of classes on homeownership.

The Indianapolis’ Housing Authority approached WCDC in early 1996 to participate in a Low-Income Housing Tax Credit project that was part of the agency’s efforts to revitalize the neighborhood surrounding the Concord Village and Eagle Creek public housing sites. The scattered site development, which includes both rehabilitation and new construction, is unique in that participation in its homeownership-training program is a requirement of tenancy.

The Tibbs Court development occurred at the same time as comprehensive neighborhood stabilization activities for the Near Westside. The stabilization included the total demolition of all 310 units at Concord Village and Eagle Creek, two of the most distressed public housing communities in the city, and the Weed and Seed Initiative, a comprehensive effort to deal with violent crime and drug trafficking. In an unprecedented display of cooperation, the city, Indianapolis Housing Authority and the Westside Community Development Corporation (WCDC) fostered an alternative project to traditional public housing that involves placing residents in new or rehabilitated homes scattered throughout the community. In addition, the project incorporated elements of the “New Urbanism” planning movement, which advocates a return to traditional city housing and neighborhood styles. The newly developed housing is available for rent to low-income families who want to become homeowners.

Through the combined efforts of WCDC’s homeownership staff and the HOPE VI Program, residents receive help in building Homeownership Development Accounts to assist in downpayment costs. They are given credit and investment counseling so that they can be prepared to purchase their own home. The Indianapolis Housing Authority through its Family Self-Sufficiency Program offers Tibbs Court residents other social services until they can become independent.

All 50 units at Tibbs Court are occupied by residents enrolled in the program, and 40 more people are on a waiting list. The program also has positively affected the community by acting as a catalyst for new neighborhood improvement projects. This project is the first mixed-finance project for affordable housing developed in Indianapolis and one of the few like it anywhere in the United States.

Contact: George Courtney, Telephone: (317) 327-5854
Tracking Number: 987
Winning Category: Geographic

Best Practice: NAACP Community Development Resource Center

NAACP Helping Gary Resident’s Increase Homeownership

Gary, Indiana. Although Gary, Indiana, has a variety of housing counseling programs, the NAACP’s Community Development Resource Center provides information to potential homeowners in jargon-free language. “It’s a matter of explaining in a way that users can understand and that opens their awareness to the homebuying process,” says Mary Ward of the NAACP. Ward has observed programs that lose clients because “the participants won’t ask questions,” she says. “They’ll sit and listen but won’t ask questions.” To date, 33 individuals and families have become homeowners through the city’s first-time

Photo of Jannine Auerbach receiving award from Secretary Cuomo & Deputy Secretary Ramirez
Jannine Auerbach (c) receiving Best of the Best award from Secretary Cuomo (l) and Deputy Secretary Ramirez (r)

homebuyers program, and an additional 13 have become first-time homeowners through private contributions. More than 300 potential homeowners have participated in the NAACP program, and 214 participants have been issued certificates for successful completion of the program.

The program, which is partially funded by $30,000 in HUD HOME funds and $100,000 in funding from Bank One, is geared toward first-time low- to moderate-income potential homebuyers since approximately 15,000 of the city’s 40,750 population are renters. Home sales have lagged behind those in nearby communities. As a result, the city of Gary identified homeownership as one of its top priorities.

The NAACP’s program, which operates in partnership with the city’s down payment assistance program, offers workshops on preparing for homeownership, shopping for a home, obtaining a mortgage, the closing process and life as a homeowner. Other partners include Fannie Mae, which has approved the program, and Freddie Mac.

The program is so successful that classes fill based on word of mouth. “Because of realtors referring us, we no longer have to advertise,” says Ward. “Sometimes there’s a waiting list.” Small classes ensure that participants receive the attention and information they need to help them through the home ownership process.

Armed with information, participants are empowered to raise questions when necessary. “I’ve had people come to class and they’ve learned so much,” says Ward, “that they go to lenders and challenge them. It gives potential homebuyers an understanding of what they are up against.”

Contact: Jeanne Meggs, Phone: (301) 226-7237
Tracking Number: 159
Winning Category: Program (Community Planning and Development)

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Content Archived: April 20, 2011

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